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Identifier
Created
Classification
Origin
09SINGAPORE624
2009-07-01 07:51:00
UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY
Embassy Singapore
Cable title:  

SINGAPORE: 701 H1N1 CASES; QUARANTINE MEASURES EASE

Tags:   TBIO  KFLU  EAGR  CASC  ETRD  ECON  SN 
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VZCZCXRO3127
RR RUEHAST RUEHCHI RUEHDH RUEHDT RUEHHM RUEHLN RUEHMA RUEHNH RUEHPB
RUEHPOD RUEHSL RUEHTM RUEHTRO
DE RUEHGP #0624/01 1820751
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 010751Z JUL 09
FM AMEMBASSY SINGAPORE
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 6908
INFO RUCNASE/ASEAN MEMBER COLLECTIVE
RUEHZN/ENVIRONMENT SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY COLLECTIVE
RUEHPH/CDC ATLANTA GA
RUSICWP/COMLOG WESTPAC
RUEAUSA/DEPT OF HHS WASHDC
RHMFIUU/DEPT OF HOMELAND SECURITY WASHINGTON DC
RHMCSUU/FAA NATIONAL HQ WASHINGTON DC
						UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 SINGAPORE 000624 

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

STATE FOR OES/IHB
DHHS FOR OGHA
EAP/MTS - MCOPPOLA
BANGKOK FOR REO HOWARD

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: TBIO KFLU EAGR CASC ETRD ECON SN

SUBJECT: SINGAPORE: 701 H1N1 CASES; QUARANTINE MEASURES EASE

REF: A) SINGAPORE 581; B) SINGAPORE 603



1. (SBU) SUMMARY: The number of confirmed H1N1 cases in Singapore
has risen rapidly to more than 700, spurring the GOS to continue its
move away from strict containment measures toward mitigating the
effects of local transmission of the virus. However, during this
transition phase there are mixed signals coming from various parts
of the GOS, potentially causing confusion among the public. The
Ministry of Health (MOH) no longer explicitly advises against
unnecessary travel to countries with community spread of H1N1 and
will not issue home quarantine orders for close contacts of
confirmed cases. However, the Ministry of Education has been
closing schools where cases of H1N1 have been detected. Large-scale
public events have been canceled and the GOS has advised companies
that they can require otherwise well employees to stay home after
travel to countries with sustained community transmission of H1N1
like the United States. End Summary.

H1N1 Numbers Grow, but Quarantine Orders Drop


--------------------------





2. (SBU) The rate of H1N1 infection in Singapore has ballooned from
about 77 cases on June 18, when the Ministry of Health (MOH) first
detected local transmission of the virus (Ref A), to more than 700
cases as of June 30. MOH will stop issuing quarantine orders for
close contacts of confirmed cases but MOH may still quarantine
confirmed H1N1 cases, an MOH official told Econoff July 1. MOH
lifted its advisories against unnecessary travel to countries with
sustained local transmission of H1N1 and now includes Singapore,
along with the United States, UK, Australia and others, in a list of
17 countries with community spread of H1N1 that are also likely to
be exporting H1N1 infection (Ref B).



3. (SBU) The GOS is moving gradually from containment policies to
mitigation measures and is attempting to be as transparent as
possible during the transition, MFA Consular Officer Alvin Low told
Econoff June 30. There are no longer any American citizens in home
quarantine or at any of Singapore's quarantine centers, although
there are at least two American-citizen patients with H1N1 being
treated at local hospitals. The Embassy Consular Section has noted
a dramatic reduction in the number of notifications from MFA
regarding the quarantine of American citizens, suggesting that
quarantining of "close contacts" arriving by air to Singapore has
been reduced as stated by MOH.

Mixed Signals from the GOS and Private Sector


--------------------------





4. (U) MOH has revised its website daily to keep the public
informed of the latest situation in Singapore and provide links to
information such as the location of community Pandemic Preparedness

Clinics, which have been established across the island. MOH
guidance for the public primarily recommends good hygiene and
careful monitoring for signs of flu-like illness, but otherwise
encourages Singaporeans to go about their daily routines.



5. (SBU) However, the Ministry of Education (MOE) has closed
individual schools and is issuing leave-of-absence orders for
students and teachers returning from travel to countries with
sustained community transmission (Ref B). On June 29, press
reported that MOE quarantined 500 students and 20 teachers at a
local boarding school after two H1N1 cases were confirmed there. At
the same time, Singapore is hosting the Asian Youth Games (AYG) from
June 29 through July 7, which involves young athletes from around
Asia, but some (AYG) events have been rescheduled when athletes were
found to have been in close contact with confirmed H1N1 cases.
Other large-scale public gatherings, including an outdoor, nighttime
in-line skating event scheduled for July 25, have been canceled out
of fear of the spread of H1N1.



6. (SBU) The Ministry of Manpower, National Trades Union Congress,
Singapore Business Federation and Singapore National Employers
Federation issued a joint advisory on June 26 that recommended
different treatment for employees that have traveled to affected
countries for work versus those that had traveled to affected
countries voluntarily (e.g., for holiday). The advisory stated that
employers could require employees with recent voluntary travel to
affected countries to stay home from work and use their annual leave
to cover the absence, but the advisory stated that employers should

SINGAPORE 00000624 002 OF 002


continue to pay employees and accommodate leaves of absence if the
employee traveled to an affected country for work. Such
differentiations could penalize people who voluntarily travel to
countries like the United States and further discourage travel
there.



7. (SBU) MFA's Low said that it is not the GOS's responsibility to
dictate to companies and schools how they respond to the H1N1
outbreak. Individuals have a social responsibility to help control
the spread of H1N1 by voluntarily practicing social distancing if
they have traveled to countries that have been exporting cases of
H1N1, he said. Low disagreed that the differing guidance among GOS
agencies could create confusion among the public and
misinterpretations of MOH guidance. He also disagreed that company
policies requiring otherwise well people to take annual leave upon
returning from voluntary travel to an affected country could amount
to an implied prohibition against travel, even as MOH has lifted the
explicit travel advisories.

SHIELDS